- City Guides
Steampunk Digest - March 27, 2020
Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world
Friday, March 27, 2020
In what may be welcome news for some readers, The Steampunk Explorer has declared a moratorium on Plague Doctor photos. Instead, we give you the denizens of Wonderland at the 2018 Obtainium Cup Contraptor’s Rally in Vallejo, California. This year’s rally has been cancelled, but Obtainium Works says the event will be back in 2021.
Meanwhile, like so many other folks, steampunk fans and creators continue to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. Some are producing online events in lieu of conventions or other gatherings. Makers and cosplayers are applying their talents to fabricate face masks for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Artists and authors are offering deals, and musicians have been staging performances via YouTube.
To help you in these difficult times, we’ve set up the COVID 19 Steampunk News Hub. It has the latest news related to the outbreak along with resources such as things to do in case you’re stuck at home. For example, via Cool Stuff Happening During Quarantine, a new Facebook group, we learned that Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame has been posting daily readings of Shakespeare sonnets on his Twitter account.
About those face masks. The CDC advises that healthcare professionals should use homemade face masks only as a last resort when medical-grade surgical masks are not available. However, some hospitals have been asking volunteers to fabricate face masks, even to the point of posting instructional videos. One of them was Deaconness Health System in Evansville, Indiana, which later added a directory of organizations in need of masks. As of early Friday, the directory had close to 500 listings.
Providence Hospital in the Seattle area has been recruiting volunteers to fabricate medical-grade masks using designs and lab-tested materials provided by the hospital.
Michelle Wyrick, proprietor of Lilly Mae’s Steam Trunk in Amarillo, Texas, made a face mask for her daughter (above), who works as an X-ray tech for a local hospital. “Now all the others in her department want a few,” she said, as the hospital conserves its supplies for personnel treating COVID patients.
The idea of using homemade masks in patient care is controversial. The American Nurses Association has stated that nurses treating COVID patients should not be using fabric masks. But in some cases, hospitals and other facilities want the homemade masks so they can free up supplies for doctors and nurses on the frontlines of treating the disease. Some see no alternative as their supplies of face masks have dwindled.
Even medical-grade surgical masks are not a substitute for N95 respirator masks. Hospitals use surgical masks to prevent wearers from spreading infection, whereas N95 masks are designed to protect wearers from pathogens.
Learn more in our story, “Steampunking Surgical Masks.”
The Steampunk Explorer is participating in Stay Home Comic Con, an online geek culture convention produced by a group of artists in the Netherlands. It will live-stream via Twitch with workshops, panels, a costume contest, and more. The website will feature an Artists Alley and Dealer Hall with digital booths linking to artists and vendors.
It runs Saturday, March 28 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. GMT+1 and Sunday March 29 from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. GMT+1. For American audiences, that’s 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Eastern time) Saturday and 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
We’ll be in the Artists Alley with a link to “The World of Steampunk,” a new online exhibition promising “Astonishing Costumes,” “Mystifying Inventions,” “Hair-Raising Adventures,” and “Bizarre Tea Rituals.” We gathered some of the best photos we’ve published over the past two years and arranged them into a visual narrative with captions. It’s designed as an introduction to steampunk culture, but we hope steampunk enthusiasts will enjoy it as well.
Steam Powered Giraffe and Frenchy and the Punk both performed live streaming concerts on YouTube. On March 19, Steam Powered Giraffe presented a 90-minute out-of-makeup acoustic show with fan favorites such as “Clockwork Vaudeville,” “Shattered Stars,” “Honeybee,” and “Brass Goggles.” They welcome tips if you like what you saw and heard.
On March 25, Frenchy and Punk staged “From the Fire Circle,” a 20-minute mini-concert featuring early works they performed at pagan festivals. It will be public until March 28, after which it will be viewable only by their Patreon supporters. Again, they welcome tips.
Organizers and friends of Clockwork Alchemy, the San Francisco area steampunk convention, staged several online events for folks who were planning to attend, as well as anyone else who cared to tune in. The centerpiece was a live streaming concert on Saturday night featuring Strangely Doesburg, Crystal Bright, Unwoman, Sarah Shay, Dogwood, Aaron J. Shay, and Lee Presson, plus “mystery guest” Nathaniel Johnstone. Strangely, who organized the concert, served as MC. You can view most of the performances on the Clockwork Alchemy website. The recordings include wait times before the musicians performed, but you can easily skip ahead in each video.
Lee Presson is also known for his portrayals of Edgar Allan Poe at Clockwork Alchemy and the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. On Sunday, he spent an hour on Facebook Live chatting with fans and reading works that included “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Cask of Amontillado.”
If that’s not enough for you, David L. Drake & Katherine L. Morse, in character as Drake & McTrowell, posted a YouTube video in which they read “The Bavarian Airship Regatta” Part 3. And Clara Blackheart has posted a photo album displaying works that would have been seen in this year’s Artist Gallery.
A host of steampunk authors are participating in an “Authors Give Back” promotion at Smashwords, the popular e-book marketplace. Through April 20, you can get selected e-books for free or at discounts ranging from 30 to 60 percent off. Participating authors include Maurice Broaddus, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, David Lee Summers, Joseph R. Lallo, Jon Messenger, Vered Ehsani, Cecilia Tan, K.C. Shaw, and L.A. Nisula. Here’s a link to the steampunk and retropunk works in the promotion.
While schools are closed during the outbreak, Audible is offering free streaming of hundreds of audiobooks via its new Stories.Audible.com website. Titles include: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (read by Scarlett Johansson); The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein (read by Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey), The Picture of Dorian Gray; Jane Eyre (read by Thandie Newton); Pride & Prejudice; and Brave New World (read by Michael York). They’re categorized by age group, from “Littlest Listeners” to teens, plus there’s a category for literary classics. You don’t need an Audible account or log-in to listen.
The outbreak has delivered a double whammy to the Jekyll & Hyde Taphouse and Grill, the Charlotte-area eatery we profiled last year. Owner Frank La Fragola had been set to open a second, larger location in downtown Belmont, near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. But that’s now on hold after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper ordered all bars and restaurants in the state to close except for takeout and delivery. The original location in Matthews is also closed, but is doing some take-out business.
The Gaston Gazette reported that La Fragola had to lay off 100 employees in both locations due to the shutdown. The story includes photos of the new location and its steampunk-themed décor.
Daedalic Entertainment has released Iron Danger, a tactical combat video game developed by Action Squad Studios. It’s set in a war-torn world they describe as a “fusion of Nordic mythology, steampunk, and tech noir.” One notable feature is the ability to rewind game action up to five seconds, allowing players to adjust their tactics. It’s available for Windows PCs via the Steam platform.
Ultimate Games S.A. has released a Nintendo Switch version of Bohemian Killing, a steampunk-themed courtroom drama game set in 19th century Paris. You play the role of an accused murderer who must prove his innocence. It was originally released on the Steam platform in 2016 for Macs and PCs. The new release is available on the Nintendo store.
The organizers of Burning Man have posted a statement about the impact COVID-19 on the Burner community and their plans for Black Rock City 2020. They note that their offices are closed, with staffers working remotely, and several regional events have been cancelled or postponed.
“Of course, one of the biggest questions is whether we’ll be able to build and experience Black Rock City 2020,” they write. “In the current climate of uncertainty it is simply too soon to tell.” They are proceeding with caution, but “for now, we are going to continue to thoughtfully and mindfully prepare for Black Rock City 2020.” It’s currently scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 7 with “The Multiverse” as the theme.
Steampunk Symposium organizer Allen Chung announced that he won’t be doing an event this year. The previous two events have been held in November in central Pennsylvania. That’s also the site of the Key City Steampunk Festival, now scheduled for Aug. 14-16 in Gettysburg. “I don’t think there is room for two events in the same general region especially in an economic downturn,” he says. “I’m going to encourage people to attend the Key City event.”
We continue to maintain and update our list of steampunk-related events that have been cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak. Here are recent additions:
A Splendid Day Out, scheduled for May 29-31 in Lancaster, UK, was cancelled.
Bridlington Race The Waves & Steampunk Weekend, scheduled for May 8-10 in Bridlington, UK, was cancelled.
Cogs & Corsets: A Steampunk Happening, scheduled for June 5-7 in Bloomington, Illinois, was cancelled.
Festival of Steam and Transport, scheduled for April 12-13 in Chatham, Kent, UK, was cancelled.
Leeds Steampunk Market, scheduled for May 2-3 at the Leeds Industrial Museum in Leeds, UK, was cancelled.
Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza, scheduled for May 8-10 in Llandudno, Wales, was cancelled.
Megacon Orlando, scheduled for April 16-19, was postponed to June 4-7.
Portsmouth Comic Con, scheduled for May 2-3 in Portsmouth, UK, was postponed to Aug. 15-16.
Ratha Con, scheduled for April 18 in Athens, Ohio, was postponed to Oct. 17.
Steampunk NZ, scheduled for May 28-June 1 in Oamaru, New Zealand, was postponed until June 3-7, 2021. This year’s planned “Adventures in Astronomy” theme will roll over to next year.
Whitby Goth Weekend, scheduled for April 24-26 in Whitby, UK, was cancelled. A second Whitby Goth Weekend is still slated for Oct. 30-Nov 1. The event draws a lot of steampunk enthusiasts.
Steampunk theme for Japanese hair salon Miyanishi Yakeyama (Inside Retail)
Book Review: The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley (The Spectator)
Time Travel Done Right (Patheos)
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